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The Shades of Winter: A Novel of the Averraine Cycle Kindle Edition
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These fool hardy, reckless, vulgar, and aging vikings/pirates do not lack for courage and heart. An amazing norse story - the sail never loses wind. It is one of those few stories that have a never-ending charm.
Some of the things that I particularly enjoyed about Morgan Smith's The Shades of Winter:
1. The thrill of sea faring and adventure that escalates with every tack
2. The deep historical and cultural reflection that counseled the author's world building, characters and interaction
3. Questions and meditations about leadership, relationship, aging, loss, anger, betrayal, pride, corruption, and loyalty.
Tam Isliefsdottir is not a contrived and superficial heroine with masculine pretenses. Sure, she can fight, cuss and drink like a pirate, but her genius is in her nurturing, vulnerable, thoughtful and emotionally intelligent nature. What she lacks in wisdom, justice, leadership and decorum is not a challenge to my appreciation for the woman she is.
The Shades of Winter begins during a late summer harvest in Dyrsholt. Although a necessary task, it’s also tedious: especially for aging sea raiders. This is explicitly so for Tam Isliefsdottir, who relates this fantastical tale from her point of view.
When a ship appears on the horizon, the harvesting halts, and the denizens arm themselves to defend against possible raiders. However, Tam was startled to learn that her Kyndred (brothers/sisters in arms) were sailing into port. After arranging a quick welcoming feast, they meet in the hall for not merely a celebration, but to deliver some astounding news about a raid on a shrine at Heilaegr.
Author Smith provides a fascinating history of the battles, fallen kings, lost comrades, and the state of the current world…and what, if anything, aging warriors can do to soothe old wounds and avenge fallen heroes.
In a world Tam considers made for the young and strong, at times, those more wizened, battle-seasoned, and yearning for past glories, make the most formidable heroines/heroes. With nothing to lose but their lives, Tam and her Kyndred embark on an expedition of vengeance, which escalates into life altering events, unexpected reunions, arcane magic, murder, manipulations, and buried truths resurrected by desperation…not desire.
Morgan Smith has exceptional insight into ancient cultures and ethos, whilst adding her distinctive elan. The detailed sea voyages, attitudes, characterization, and fighting techniques and armaments are impeccable. I appreciate the strong female characters that stood on their own, without the need to lessen the masculinity of the males. They stand on equal footing: in intellect, banter, and battle.
The Shades of Winter by Morgan Smith is an amazing journey with an engaging plot and extraordinary characters. Once the foundation is laid, you’re propelled into a magnificent tale where events and people aren’t necessarily what they appear to be. I can’t wait for the next novel to find out what new adventures are to be had.